Refining Innovation or Opening Innovation?

Guest post by Kevin Flora


In a recent podcast, the discussion was focused around inventions.  The question was asked, “have all of the good inventions already been invented?”  The answer to this question was not a surprise.  Instead of inventing new products, the past few decades have focused on improving already existing products – making the cell phone smaller, computer storage larger, etc.  In a sense, our human minds have transformed the definition of innovation to mean refining existing material. 

Now focus on innovation in the field of education.  The layout of a classroom, the way teaching is conducted, and the school system has not changed much since the 19th century.  We still sit in rows, have a hierarchical structure that is controlled by negative reinforcement, and read textbooks.  Education as a whole is a closed system.  Innovation in education would then be a matter of refining a closed system to benefit the individual learner.  We see “innovative” ideas such as placing technology in the classroom, the flipped learning style, and project-based learning.  But is that all that is left to do in education?  Can there be more?  Have all of the good inventions already been invented?

I want to introduce you to Buddy Berry.  He is the superintendent of Eminence Independent Schools in Eminence, Kentucky.  The small school building which houses all K-12 students was producing some of the lowest standardized test scores in the state prior to Berry’s leadership.  Instead of refining Eminence procedures, Berry opened up his mind to endless possibilities (resulting in a complete turnaround on state scores).  Along with having a classroom (wifi included) on a bus, a slide in the cafeteria, and kindergarten-aged kids completing an online presentation before moving on to first grade, Berry is working on changing Kentucky’s policy on enrollment.  Instead of going to a school based on where one lives, Berry proposes the state to have open enrollment and students should choose their school.  Some states already have this option, but Berry asserts that children in Kentucky could have a better education if they were able to have options in their education. 

Implications of going from closed enrollment to open enrollment are amazing.  New jobs are created so consultants can help parents / guardians customize schooling based on what is best for the child.  Essentially, every student has an individualized learning plan that extends from one end of the state to the other.  Also, schools are in competition to provide better quality education to keep students coming in.  Instead of considering innovation as a refining process, try to think of how you can innovate with an open mindset.  Do not grow weary of changing the world!   If you knew anything that you did would succeed, how would you open up your educational setting?

Image credit: Flickr user masondan  

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less